The aortic valve and the mitral valve are the most commonly replaced valves. The most common valve surgical procedure is aortic valve replacement for aortic stenosis or narrowing of the aortic valve. Other conditions that may require a valve replacement include mitral stenosis or aortic regurgitation (leaky valve).
Surgical options for a valve replacement include:
- TAVI/TAVR procedure. Learn more here!
- Open. A few other, more invasive procedures include replacing the valve with a mechanical valve made of durable materials, utilizing animal or donor tissue for the valve.
- Mechanical Valve. A long-lasting valve made from durable materials replaces the damaged valve.
- Tissue Valve. Animal or donor tissue is used to replace the damaged valve.
- Ross Procedure. “Borrowing” your healthy valve and moving it into the position of the damaged valve.
What to ExpectJump Up
BEFORE THE PROCEDURE
Prior to surgery, you will have to undergo cardiac catheterization to assess the arteries in your heart for blockages. To make sure you’re healthy enough for surgery, you will get blood and urine tests, chest x-rays, an electrocardiogram, and a physical exam. Your doctor will discuss the procedure with you beforehand and will likely ask you several questions about your health history.
DURING THE PROCEDURE
Open-heart surgery typically takes two to four hours. You’ll be under general anesthesia during the procedure. During the operation, a surgeon will make a six to eight inch opening in your chest, split your breastbone, and stop your heart temporarily and hook you up to a heart-lung machine. The surgeon will then take out the damaged valve and put in a replacement valve.
AFTER THE PROCEDURE (RECOVERY)
Age, overall health, and the type of surgery you undergo can all affect your recovery. You’ll likely spend about a week in the hospital. When you first get home, you might be sore, swollen, and red. You will also get tired easily. Your breastbone will take six to eight weeks to heal. Physical activity can take up to three months to get back into. Your surgeon will likely recommend cardiac rehabilitation starting about a month after surgery, to help you safely increase physical activity.
Are there any risks associated with open heart surgery for aortic valve replacement?
Yes, risks include:
- bleeding after surgery
-heart rhythm changes
-kidney problems that may last for a few days after surgery
-new valve doesn’t work or wears out over time